Well, world, you can have you cronuts and your crookies. I've already encountered the best form a croissant can take and it's filled with custard and sliced strawberries. Those who read this blog or our yearly Best Of Issue already know this: I and my fellow Forkers love Cream Pan's strawberry croissants like fish love the water.
But all this tinkering by others to improve upon the croissant has inspired me to do some tinkering of my own. For years I've thought about how to replicate Cream Pan's strawberry jewels at home but without resorting to actually making the croissant itself (which is a task I will leave to more talented bakers).
My goal was to get as close as I can with little to no effort, because otherwise, what's the point? I can just buy them.
I've tried using frozen puff pastry as a substitute, but it didn't taste quite right, probably because puff pastry does not equal croissant. And the custard pudding recipe I've been following didn't seem to end up anything like Cream Pan's.
But then I came to a realization: what about Costco's always dependable and relatively cheap croissants? Straight from the package, they're limp and greasy, but a quick toast in the toaster oven and they've been known transform into something that's light, crisp and flaky.
And then, the final piece of the puzzle came: Cooking With Dog, arguably the best YouTube cooking show on Earth, came out with a recipe for Choux Creme (Cream Puffs) and in it was what turned out to be a very close approximation of Cream Pan's custard.
I won't bother giving you my version of their custard recipe. You can watch it yourself and follow their step-by-step, almost fool proof instructional, which I only modified because I have more vanilla extract than I know what to do with (yes, it was from Costco). But with this custard, some strawberries and a liberal dusting of powdered sugar, that toasted Costco croissant was able to metamorphose into…something kinda close to the original.
I'll admit, it's not as good (I didn't expect it to be), and it won't go viral, but it's a cheap bootleg and has cost me considerably much less than the going rate of a cronut.